Have you ever realised that our mobile phones are like slotmachines in our pockets. The moment you open your phone, all your apps are inviting you to click on them due to the colourful icons and bright red notifications so that you spend more time using their service.
It’s like walking along a busy street where all the shop owners are calling out your name wanting you to spend as much time as possible in their store so that buy the many products that they are selling.
‘Billions of dollars have been invested to try and figure out how to get you to look compulsively at your phone screen’ says Cal Newport (Author of the book Digital Minimalism) in an interview with GMA. For example in 2010, Facebook added the like button to its platform. This simple feature is a form of social approval that has been present in our society since the beginning of social interaction.
When your Aunt likes the picture of your dog that you just posted on Facebook, you get a sense of happineess due to the endorphins released in your body as your Aunt ‘approves’ and ‘likes’ your image. This causes people to want likes and measure their happiness based on likes. ‘Oh the picture I posted yesterday got 5 likes so this must get above that number or else it sucks and I will be depressed’ is what some people actually think. Well, you might be thinking ‘ I post pics on instagram and Facebook so that I can keep in touch with my family and friends’ , but how much affection and friendship does that like or comment provide for the person? Probably not as much as meeting them in person and talking or giving them a call to know what’s going on in their lives.
Another time absorbing feature of social media is the notifications that it shows.
Justin Bieber just liked your post on Instagram , Elon Musk just liked your tweet about #TeamTress… Example of notifications
One thing that I would like to focus on is that all the notification icons on your phone and social media platforms are red. This isn’t a coincidence. Social media platforms use red as it catches your attention. For example, danger signs and stop signs use red as you are more likely to look at them as they signify importance and immediacy compared to other colours. So a simple step that you can take to avoid being trapped by your mobile phone is to simply disable notifications from all apps except your phone and SMS app as this would allow you to spend your time using your mobile phone more meaningfully.
This brings me to the end of the blog, if you would like to dwell deeper into this subject, I recommend reading Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.